The staff of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, has embarked on a peaceful protest against the concession of the Abuja, Lagos, Port-Harcourt and Kano international airports.
Members of the unions locked the gates of the FAAN headquarters with padlocks to ensure nobody enters the premises.
The staff and leaders of the four unions in FAAN and members of the Lagos state Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, matched to the local, MM2 terminal and international airports carrying placards with different inscriptions and chanting solidarity songs.
Some of the placards read: Airports concession is a crime against Nigerians, selective concessioning ploy to destroy FAAN, FAAN Workers have been patience enough, job losses loom in the aviation industry, FAAN pay our pension liability, FG please resolve MM2 concession among others.
Leadership of the four unions, Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals ANAP, National Union of Air Transport Employees, NUATE, Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, ATSSSAN and the National Union of Pensioners, NUP, took turns to talk to the staff on the efforts they have made on the matter and their take about the process.
Comrade Abdulrazak Saidu, ANAP scribe said the matter had been a lingering one, adding that meetings so far held with the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika had not yielded any results.
He accused the Minister of aviation of embarking on a one man concession project which he was doing secretly with the Infrastructure, Concession and Regulatory Commission, ICRC.
According to him, concession like the MM2 terminal had been trailed with controversies, adding that the unions would not be deterred in ensuring that the airport was not sold to some people in government in the guise of concession.
“The concession granted Bi-courtney Aviation Services over 12years under built, operate and transfer has not yielded positive result as regards payment for services rendered by FAAN(fire cover, safety, safety and runway facilities), NAMA provides en-route and other navigational services.”
Comrade Ocheme Aba, General Secretary, NUATE, said it had become necessary for the workers voice to be heard and the exercise is their stake and their service record.He stated that the process had never been transparent and the unions do not have confidence in the Minister any longer.
“They equally come out to let Nigerians know that this is beyond what will happen to the workers of FAAN and this about what will happen to the common patrimony and the common heritage of Nigerians.”
ATSSSAN Chairman FAAN branch, comrade Ahmed Danjuma said the airport concession was an injustice to FAAN and that the unions and the staff would not allow it to happen.
He alleged that the Aviation Minister forged the concession documents and presented it to the ICRC and that that unions objected to the certificate presented to the Minister by the ICRC because the Minister in the cause if the project wanted to show Nigerians that he is transparent.
The union leader alleged that the minister had not been sincere right from day one of the the proposed concession and the unveiling of his roadmap for the industry.
“And he then approached the unions to be members of that committee incidentally myself and the president of NUATE and members of that committee in order to monitor initially we refused to join that committee.”
The protest by aviation unions protest was held nationwide in all the airports simultaneously.
Meanwhile, The Nigeria Labour Congress and Organized Labour in Nigeria have warned the Federal Government to desist from further contemplation, discussions and arrangements to concession the international airports and call for social dialogue between government and labour on this.
In a statement, President of the NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba says, the organized labour and the entire Nigerian working class will resist any attempt to unilaterally concession any of the public airports thus undermine the directive principles and fundamental objectives of the national constitution which is actually the fulcrum upon which our collective identity and aspiration rests.
“We will not give up or surrender public assets to a few well-connected Nigerians, regardless of how powerful they may think they are.”
“The unwholesome and unpatriotic attitude of giving away our prized national property to private sector operatives is not only unjust and immoral but also in ultra-violation of Chapter 2, Section 16 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the Fundamental Objectives and the Directive Principles of State Policy which states that the Nigerian government must manage and operate the major sectors of the economy and ensure that that our economy is not operated to permit the concentration of wealth or the means of production and exchange in the hands of few individuals or of a group.”
He adds, “It is important to note that while our airports especially the ones earmarked for concession were in states of eye sore and dilapidation, no private sector invested money towards its rehabilitation. It would be a grand insult to the collective intelligence of the Nigerian public for the Federal Government to invest a lot of public funds into the reconstruction and rehabilitation of our airports and then hand them over to private sector players for profit maximization and at the expense of the tax paying public. This is unjust. It is immoral. This cannot stand.”